Pro Landscaper Africa March 2020 Residential

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M A R C H 2 0 2 0 - R E S I D E N T I A L / E S TAT E I S S U E



elcome to the March Issue of Pro Landscaper Africa.

In this edition we visit the spaces that make up our residences and living estates. We are thrilled this month to welcome some fantastic feature writers who are new to our pages as well as a few who are regular contributors, ensuring all key industry members are covering topics that relate to the way we design, build and maintain these residential spaces. The projects featured in this issue are exquisite and are beautiful examples of residential and estate design, with our interview this month being none other than the renowned Franchesca Watson. We have quite a few tricks up our sleeve this year, and the growing popularity towards hosting live events is encouraging as we have great plans for the FutureScape Africa Trade Show we are hosting at the CTICC on the 27th of October. With great new products to inspire, equipment for maintaining estates and all of the features you would expect in a residential issue, we have managed to catapult our page count and hopefully your interest too! Follow us on Instagram @prolandscaperafrica Swing by our Facebook Page @Pro Landscaper Africa Download our Pro Landscaper app

Enjoy the read.

Published by










Making an Entrance by Tanya de Villiers


The Joy is in Creating a living Environment by Cara Smith


What Consumers Want: Trends in Estate Developments by North Global Group


Inside Out by Josephine Noyce


Built in Braai’s: Al Fresco living made easy


The Role of Art and Sculpture in the Garden by Gregory Mark


Outdoor Tiles


The Art of Garden Design for Residential Estates by Margot van der Westhuizen


Bringing Nature Back into Residential Estates by Marijke Honig


An Interview with renowned Garden Designer Franchesca Watson



Creating Biomes in the Garden by Adrian Geary


Site Visit: Kraaibosch Nurseries


May the Veld be with you by Life is a Garden


Book Club by Carrie Latimer


Cheetah Plains: Reinventing Safari by ARRCC



Kloof 145: The King of Kloof Road by SAOTA & Nicholas Whitehorn Landscape Design


Estate Maintenance by Jonty Kirkby


Nooitgedaght Village Park by Style Council in collaboration with Verdigris Consulting and Roomtogrow


Top Equipment for March


Stone Cottage by JVR Architects and Gregory Mark Landscapes








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E N T E R T HE A F R I SA M - SA I A S U S TA I NA B L E D E S I G N AWA R D 2020 To mark a decade of the Award programme, all practitioners of sustainable design are invited to enter projects that respond to innovative architectural and design thinking in the field of sustainability into the AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award 2020. The AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award recognises contributions that bring sustainable innovation to both urban and rural living environments through an integrated approach to communities, planning, research, architecture, building practice, natural systems and technology. Entries should demonstrate how they embody sound practices, that bear the hallmarks of great architectural, social design and innovative thinking in the field of sustainability, to achieve a better future for all.

4. Placemaking Performance 5. Leadership The Award recognises design excellence in these four categories: A) Sustainable Architecture B) Research in Sustainability C) Sustainable Products and Technology D) Sustainable Social Programmes Previous category D winner

CATEGORY A - Sustainable Architecture Built by the community of Joe Slovo, the Silindokuhle Pre-School by Collectif Saga was designed to provide the children of the community with a better and safer learning environment, while showing the great potential of using recycled and reclaimed materials in construction. CATEGORY B - Research in sustainability The Gauteng City Region Observatory’s research publication entitled ‘Green Infrastructure in the City Region’ provides an introduction to the concept and value of green infrastructure. The project adopts a range of methods and ways of presenting the research, ensuring that it is accessible to a wide audience and serving as a benchmark for future entries.

How to enter: Entries must be submitted online at by 31 March 2020, midnight (GMT+2). If you are experiencing any difficulty in entering online, mail The entries will be judged based on the following criteria: 1. Harmonisation 2. People Upliftment 3. New Ways of Thinking


Previous category C winner Previous category A winner

CATEGORY C - Sustainable products and technology HearScreen by the hearX Group is a worldclass hearing screening solution on a smartphone. Cutting costs by over 80%, the innovation significantly improves on current hearing screening models by allowing non-specialist personnel to do screenings in resource-constrained environments. CATEGORY D - Sustainable social programmes Starting with his own efforts to cut through the undergrowth, James Delaney began to revitalise a forgotten 40-acre public space. This was followed by the addition of metal sculptures and with the help of volunteers, The Wilds has become a restorative space for residents of the inner city and suburbs of Johannesburg.


MAKING AN ENTRANCE Tanya de Villiers, landscape director at cndv landscape architects



n entrance has the ability to set the tone of the development, and may, if correctly implemented, create a memorable emotion and lasting impression on the viewer. Although external first impressions are important, one should also consider the experience for a visitor or resident after entering or upon leaving an estate or development. The success of the landscape architect’s intervention largely relies on the brief from the client and the understanding or intention of the developer concerned. As the landscape architect, you may have freedom to design something unique, or alternatively the client may not understand the importance of an entrance, or may intentionally want the entrance building to be impressive in scale, and therefore the physical structure (e.g. the gatehouse) more often than not becomes the dominant feature. The resulting design may then result in little more than a soulless space containing a building where (in the case of an estate) you sign in to enter. Depending on the size of the estate, there may also be a requirement for many entrance lanes and exit lanes, some covered, resulting in a large scaled space required for practical reasons. The entrance building itself may become very dominant, with a host of functions, resulting in a severe loss of human scale, or where the architecture attempts to be as large and impressive as possible. Our inputs can become purely an aesthetic add-on, an attempt to try and soften and reduce the scale of the space. Some developers are open to a much more intuitive design approach, specifically in smaller developments, allowing the landscape architect the freedom to design a space which envelops and urges the viewer to enter at a more relaxed pace. This could include an element of wonder and surprise, and subtly lure the viewer from the busy exterior into a different world. This design would typically include both roadway and sidewalk design, and could include a combination of walls, hard landscape elements, lighting, water and would typically introduce the estate’s specific planting palette. An example of this is the Lake Michelle entrance where cndv were able to combine a number of elements to create a specific ambiance that hints at what you may find inside. In some cases, the design combines both a practical as well as an aesthetic function, combining a solution to a problem with a single element.

An example of an entrance, where the building is intentionally impressive and over-scaled. Image: courtesy of Xpose Studios

At Lake Michelle in Noordhoek, the entrance is reserved and serene, and the landscape dominates. The natural and lake-based theme of the development is intentionally introduced, with subtle design and signage and a very reduced scale of gatehouse that is tucked away to the left of the entrance.



For example, at an estate in Franschhoek, an old avenue had to be retained, and the client wanted a linear feature element that ran down the hill towards the entrance gate. Nothing would grow under it, and the water had to be circulated to keep it fresh. Something else to consider is that entrances are not always about vehicles. In some developments, the vehicular entrance is specifically downplayed, and the real sense of arrival only happens once you have disembarked and entered a space by foot. At Bosjes, the more significant and memorable sense of arrival is experienced on the pedestrian axis towards the chapel, with the view of the iconic structure reflected in the water. The vehicular entrance serves only to allow you into the space, and is purposefully reserved in scale and importance. An entrance may also serve as a purely a feature or sculptural element, a place marker rather than a functional space. A landscape architect may be fortunate enough to be asked to design purely sculptural objects set within the landscape to form a unique entrance statement, a combination of landscape design and art.

At this Franschhoek-based project, cndv landscape architects designed a linear water feature which circulated water from the irrigation dam and created a feature element. In an estate that had no gatehouse, this served as the entrance statement.

For example, cndv was commissioned to design an entrance statement for Dube Tradeport. This statement structure forms part of the entrance roads to King Shaka Airport in Durban, these sculptural elements were designed in a large space already, containing two double lanes of traffic with an existing centre island and lights. This sculptural design is ultimately left up to the viewer to decide what it is. Tanya explains that: "In this design, the client's brief was to 'create something uniquely African, but it cannot be the big five, and it must somehow relate to the airport'. I produced a few options for the client, including this one, which I intended would bring to mind the ribs of a whale, or a carcass in the wild, as well as be reminiscent of the wings of an aeroplane in form. "The large rough concrete vertical elements were repeated, at a scale to take into the account the massive width of the space. When driving through them, one gets the feeling that they bend inwards, like the people of Africa bending in a welcome gesture." She elaborates: "The features are intentionally unspecific in form, allowing the viewer to interpret them in their own way. They are slightly screened within indigenous trees, with signage elements of a very reserved scale set onto walls of local slate."


Entrances are not always about vehicles. Bosjes in Worcester, by cndv landscape architects (2017)



Innovative thinking and project team collaboration leads to a unique landscape success for a Cape Town development Every once in a while there is a perfect match between a client and their contracting team, and when that happens, a successful project is virtually guaranteed to be the outcome. And so, it is with the relationship between Contours Design Studio (CDS) and Aquacor, the developers of StayMelville, that a revolutionary new development has become the talking point in a "new age" of thinking in the Cape Town suburb of Ottery. Brimming with pride in what has been achieved in close partnership with Aquacor's directors, Matthew Quinton and Michael Morris, and renowned landscape architect, Clare Burgess, Contours Design Studio's head designer, Cara Smith, talks enthusiastically of how StayMelville is a "vibrant living space" for its owners and tenants, rather than simply a development in which they live. This has been achieved by futuristic planning at the concept stage, which resolved that all green spaces would double-up where possible as miniature gardens where residents could plant

and harvest salad bowls of fresh produce at their front doors, as well as creating a dynamic outdoor lifestyle where residents feel safe, can explore, interact with neighbours, have places to welcome children and friends and have spaces for culture to grow. Outdoor facilities like basketball, a children's pump track, jogging paths, five-a-side soccer, and a skate park were added in for these reasons. "Our plant selection was also critical," says Cara. "We wanted plants that are hardy, that don't require copious amounts of water and that can happily survive the extremes of weather in Cape Town, which includes the strong seasonal south-easterly winds, particularly in this area. Apart from greening the parking areas with trees and shrubs, and developing "salad gardens" in the car park beds, the CDS team also planted climbing vegetables such as squash, cucumber and baby marrow to find their way up the railings for second-floor tenants. Evergreen creepers were added between individual units to offer screening, seasonal colour and create an atmosphere of privacy for the residents. These included a mix of granadillas, star jasmine and Senecio tamoides.



Cara says: "Owners and tenants will be mostly families with small children who will want to enjoy their living space. So we needed to create recreational areas with vegetation that would be able to handle wear and tear and still thrive". For this reason, Aristidia and Eragrostis indigenous grasses mixed with winter flowering Kniphofia and summer flowering Aloe cooperi were the perfect combinations. Another innovative aspect of CDS engagement with the StayMelville development is the team’s decision to not only source plants from local nurseries, but to train a group of local people to maintain the gardens, verges and installations at the estate. "While the beauty of this project is the low maintenance aspect of the landscaping," Cara explains, "we do need trained staff to maintain the installation. So we sent a number of local people for intensive training and engaged local suppliers to be part of the wider StayMelville community. "What I have learned from being part of this dynamic team is that you cannot place enough value on bringing your key disciplines in at the planning or even conceptual phase. "The rewards of that inclusive attitude are clear to see, not only with the landscape contractors, but with everyone involved with this project. "I am also convinced that the pioneering approach to this development, with the emphasis on creating a tangible living space for residents to enjoy, is a key to its success. "After working during office hours when the residents are often out working, it was wonderful to come here early one morning to see people really enjoying the shared spaces – walking on the circular path, planting their own herbs and simply just enjoying being at home here. "This was the aim of the developers, and as far as I am concerned, they have succeeded beyond – I believe – even their own imaginations." Cara Smith is the head designer of Cape Townbased landscape design company, Contours Design Studio.



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INSIDE OUT By Josephine Noyce, landscape designer



o bring about more outdoor living, we need to break the boundaries between what is formally considered the house (inside) and the garden (outside). The garden, typically a messy and muddy place which requires sun protection and shoes, versus the house, which is organised, comfortable and clean. We have seen a change in mindset as clients are wanting to incorporate their architecture with the landscaping – formerly two separate stages in design. There is a trend to weave 'green' more closely into living spaces and combine elements in interesting ways. Architects, of course, have a big part to play in designing a space that enables this connection between spaces, which is why I love getting involved in projects early. Living in the city often means that we have little or no space for a garden. However, there are many creative ways to incorporate nature into your living space. Some ideas include narrow lightwell courtyards, outdoor showers, large windows with views of greenery, compact green walls, stackback doors to open your home to the elements, rooftop gardens (with succulent ground covers or grasses), incorporating natural materials such as boulders/wood, allowing an abundance of natural light in (skylights) and indoor plants. A few of my favourite indoor plants include: Sansevieria 'Moonshine', Pilea peperomioides (chinese money plant), Alocasia macrorrhiza (elephant ear), Ficus lyrata (fiddle leaf), Ficus elastica or benjamina (rubber fig and weeping fig), Trachycarpus (fan palms), Ligularia tussilaginea (giant leopard plant), Philodendron scandens (cascading heart shaped leaves) and Chamaedorea seifrizii (bamboo palm). In courtyard gardens, you can include plenty of outdoor seating areas for different times of the day (morning sun, midday shade, afternoon sun), fences can be living (parterre trees or trellised creepers), pergolas can be alive (roses, granadilla, vines, etc.) and groundcovers can be placed between paving slabs to add a softness to clean, functional surfaces. When designing small spaces, I try to create big gestures to produce a feeling of more space rather than many small elements. Dark walls often create a feeling of depth in the garden and bring the green planting into the foreground making them feel more luminous. In a yoga garden I completed last year, we had an awkwardly shaped diagonal wall that we painted charcoal – it made the space seem more peaceful and less affronting as it absorbed the light. In bigger gardens, half indoor/outdoor pools are a great way to break the barriers between the areas. The garden should always encourage circulation and movement, an opportunity to discover what is around the corner.

Image supplied by: @ms_arch_viz and Jane Bates Interior Design



In larger gardens, I like to include a variety of routes where one can leisurely stroll or cycle. This encourages you to go into the garden space and avoid 'dead' spaces.

Designer Townhouse | Bakoven • Garden rooms such as outdoor dining, fireplace, and an exercise space. •

Beach outdoor showers/bathrooms.

Another way to liven up your garden is through garden lighting – it is important to have the correct night lighting in the garden to allow you to use the space in the evening to relax or entertain. For example, soft, warm lighting in planting or reflecting on walls which can be powered by small solar panels. In terms of landscaping materials used, it is always good to try continue themes and materials from the inside out so that you can easily and subconsciously move between spaces. Some of the above points are seen in my projects in Fresnaye and Bakoven:

Outdoor kitchen/bar with pergola.

Same materials used inside and outside (shuttered concrete platform and polished concrete finish to the outdoor stairs). Local Bakoven-stone wall.

Modern Townhouse | Fresnaye • Clean/level surfaces where you can comfortably walk barefoot from inside to outside.


Held within soil


Infiltration (through swales), to absorb into beds for later use


Pond or dams (which encourage wildlife, and can be used for irrigation)


Storage tanks (this option is typically the easiest to treat).

Using similar/same colours from inside to the outdoor space for harmony and continuity (must always match the interior style). In this case, it was a modern home with natural organic colours and wooden floors, so the garden tiles, pots and wall paint were kept in the same tones.

Stack-back doors which opens up the barrier from the outside to inside.

Having big windows where lots of light can enter room enables you to have indoor plants with a greenhouse effect.

Large gestures make small spaces feel bigger (simple lines), such as the large paving 'pads'.


It is, of course, very important to consider the water budget for every project before designing a garden and minimise water-run off on the site, as we should be maximising the soil’s water storage and contribute back to the water table. Water can be stored on site in four ways:

Water storage in the soil can be improved by adding more organic compounds which, in turn, enhance its ability to retain water. Planting trees can reduce the amount of water absorbed in planting beds and re-humidify the air. Interestingly, trees increase precipitation through transpiration and play a vital role in creating rainfall – hence why I think deforestation is a major reason why we are experiencing such drought.

All plant roots (and especially established trees) control water and soil run-off. To contribute more water to an underground reservoir, there are many great ways to make surfaces more permeable, such as narrow planting in expansion joints or between pavers, gravel/pebbles, porous concrete, grass blocks, peach pips, wood shavings in vegetable gardens and more. In full sun courtyards, I like to plant trees – this is due to the fact that a tree cools the air in sunlight through evaporation, and also warms the air at night through condensation. They are a great temperature moderator! In coastal gardens, water can be captured from the humid, cool ocean air by shade/cold surfaces (metal/glass) which creates water flow into planting beds. Water from cool air can also be captured by forcing it to higher altitudes (updrafts) but this is quite technical. Research has proven that increased exposure to nature “reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure”. It can also “increase sleep duration” which, in itself, has a number of positive knock on effects on our lives. Therefore, living close to nature and spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits. We spend too much of our time indoors, in our cars, at restaurants, and not nearly enough time in the open air. As our spaces get smaller, it is becoming fundamental to have a garden to feel the connection to nature, and have a greater understanding of nature as it moves further away from us.



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THE ROLE OF ART AND SCULPTURE IN THE GARDEN Gregory Mark, landscape designer I have been using sculptures in my gardens for many years now and what I love most is how garden sculptures will captivate garden visitors in a way that is completely different to how plants do. Sculptures command attention in the landscape and always bring about conversation, a pause in the garden for discussion about the piece and the artist. A work of art can animate its environment, demands attention and forces the visitor to slow down and take in the whole garden slowly. Placement Art is often an emotional purchase and, naturally, so is its placement. Everything about placement is important, especially the way the artwork responds to light. Personally, I find sculptures to be versatile for all locations and landscape styles, however, placement can make or break a piece of art and it is always my intention to enhance and celebrate the artwork in my gardens. For focal points, I like to use a bold or loud piece of sculpture – for instance, through a main axis of a garden space for maximum visual impact. A shady, quiet, intimate space might evoke a more emotional piece. As a designer, I believe it is often an intuitive or artist skill where the artwork should reside in the landscape setting but for me it’s often that it just makes the right statement or that it feels right for the intended space. Sculpture can be made of many different materials that affect its environment and surrounding landscape. Artwork can be constructed of bronze/stone/ rammed earth or mixed media and can come in a variety of colours and forms to set the tone of the garden and should resonate the home or landscape spaces architectural aesthetic. Scale Scale is incredibly important. When selecting a work of art, ask yourself how a visitor would respond to it, especially in a commercial and



public spaces. The setting of the sculpture often determines its scale, function and form. For big spaces, consider a big piece; for small intimate spaces, a small, more detailed piece. The garden designer should take into an account all angles of the artwork and how it is viewed up close and from a distance. From afar, the silhouette becomes more important. Up close, it is the texture and detail that is noticed. Elevate your piece Personally, I like sculptures mounted on some sort of art block or built pedestals – sculpture platforms have a practical and visual symbolic function. Often, lighting can be incorporated into the design of such a pedestal to illuminate the sculpture so that it can be a focal point during both day and night. By elevating the artwork and giving it clearance above planting schemes in this way, the piece does not become obscured by the planting surrounding it. Art blocks bring the artwork closer to eye level where it can be admired at close detail. Some of our finest sculptural installations have been one-off purchases from art galleries or antique finds but if you have in mind to use a piece of art in the garden it is often a good idea to get the artist involved at planning stages to address any structural or functional (load bearing) requirements when fixing the piece in the landscape or in public spaces. Planting Art and planting compositions should always complement each other and the chosen sculpture should always add to the gardens overall look, feel and theme. I prefer relaxed calm landscapes filled with textured plants rather than lots of busy flowering plants when pairing plants and sculpture. Both plants and sculptures should never compete with each other in the landscape, planting compositions and planting schemes are especially important when including sculpture and careful consideration is needed when selecting the plants to compare leaf texture and shape with the sculptures own form and textures. The plant material should frame or enhance the work of art and not overshadow it. Investment I generally tend to see the right art as an investment and have noticed a trend towards more requests for sculpture to be included in corporate and private gardens. I’m especially noticing more interactive sculptures in their landscaped spaces that the public can enjoy and be tactile or take a selfie with. My clients are often very involved in the selecting the artwork or sculpture, often so the sentimental value of the piece out serves its value. I know of artworks that become part of families, eventually to be given a name and


handed down as an heirloom. When purchasing from artists and galleries, be sure to ask how many will be produced and retain all documentation from the artist at the time of purchase. I believe in a versatile approach to sculpture selection. I often scour the curio-styled markets in search of interesting or rare finds for my clients. South Africa really has some great up and coming artists who are fast becoming sought after amongst collectors – if you looking for a piece that will retain its value and bring about future growth, I suggest you start with a reputable gallery. But, if the budget doesn’t allow, there are many stone artworks that can be found locally for a fraction of the price and are just as beautiful in the garden.

Instagram @gregorymarklandscapes Facebook @gregorymarklandscapes Contact PH 0824 437 251 "I love to use art in the garden," says allround creative Gregory Mark. With a National Diploma in landscape technology from Natal Technicon, Gregory has made landscaping his career of choice, amassing over 20 years’ experience in the industry. "I have been gardening all my life, as a young child playing in the mud and now creating some of South Africa’s finest residential/commercial garden spaces."

THE ART OF GARDEN DESIGN FOR RESIDENTIAL E S TAT E S By Margot van der Westhuizen, landscape designer



ver the past 20 years, there has been a trend toward estate living in South Africa. Whether it is golf courses being developed as mixed-use lifestyle estates by incorporating residential homes or large suburban properties being subdivided to accommodate smaller but more homes, there is no doubt that estate living is on the rise and no wonder that South Africa has become a global pioneer in this field. This has been proven by a recent report published by New World Wealth in which it is estimated that over 40% of South Africa’s high net worth individuals now live or have homes on residential estates. Residential estate gardens typically have a common set rules, regulations and challenges. Despite this, any garden can be transformed into a paradise of serenity and protection. Designing for privacy Privacy is an issue that frequently arises in residential estates due to large double volume homes being built in relatively close proximity to one another. With careful planning and plant selections, privacy can be achieved without compromising on pleasing aesthetics. The key to visual privacy is to create depth and layers. Avoid boxing gardens in with tall, straight hedges. Pleached trees are the perfect method to

extend the height of a boundary while simultaneously creating the illusion of depth – these are essentially hedges on stilts which add the advantage of providing space for another layer of planting. The more layers of planting, the larger the space will appear. The line of sight from a neighbouring balcony or window can be cut off by planting trees if the space allows it. Where space is limited, pergolas with creepers can provide decent shade as well as screening. Visual privacy is important, but if you can hear your neighbours the effect is often lost. Water features are the perfect way to create ‘white noise’ to drown out unwanted sound from traffic or chatter from neighbours in close proximity. It will also make your conversations more private. Make the most of your view, or lack thereof Making the most of the property’s orientation and the relation to its surroundings is key. The most memorable views are constructed to have impact in both directions: outward and away from the house as well as back toward the house from a distance. This applies to properties of all sizes. With the correct design treatment of the garden, the estate’s grounds can be used to great advan-

tage. If a view over the golf course, green zone or equestrian field exists, apply the theory of visual appropriation. Put as few obstacles as possible between the home and the view to preserve its innate drama. You will make the most of your view if your lawn can roll so that it foreshortens against the view and the surrounding landscape. However, not every property can have a spectacular view overlooking the fairway. Where possible, instead of following the impulse of enclosing the garden with screen planting, partly look out onto the neighbouring property’s garden. Someone else is maintaining it, you are enjoying it. Use windows and doors as framing devices to create visual links between rooms and the garden. Water features, pots and sculptures can be used to create features that draw the eye into the garden and away from neighbouring roofs. Soften the hardness Hard surfaces are a required necessity for any building’s exterior. Developed estates have no shortage of driveways, paved entrances, courtyards, and patio’s that require practical flooring. Almost any hard, uncompromising lines can be softened by planting and enables one to reduce the heat-glare effect in otherwise hot and unattractive garden areas.


F E AT U R E Leave a narrow space where paving and walls meet to allow for greenery. Use creepers or climbers on steel cables or trellises to green and soften walls. Various leaf-textured creepers can be layered and combined with a garden mirror to create depth in small or narrow spaces. Trees provide shade, seasonal interest and leaf-textured shadows for larger paved areas. Ensure to choose plants with non-invasive root systems to avoid paving and boundary walls being lifted over time. Blend the indoors and out Today’s gardens must be designed to be lived in. It has to be visually pleasing while, at the same time, suiting our lifestyles. As densification increases, our gardens are becoming extensions of our homes. Inviting the garden into the home with large patio doors and windows enable indoor living to seamlessly spill outside. A patio provides a transitional stage between the house and garden as well as adding an outdoor room. Uniform flooring that spills from the living room to outdoor hard surfaces creates a seamless transition. Carefully selected pots of varying sizes on a patio immediately connects one to the garden and integrates the transition between indoors and out. Where space is limited, the whole area may be taken up with a garden patio. Don’t be afraid to plant right up the house or patio. Break out of the conventional and predictable style of garden layouts of edged lawns, garden beds around the perimeter and paved or gravel paths in narrow areas. Instead, use natural stone products to create interesting pathways that can be interplanted with greenery. Plant for biodiversity and resilience Replace thirsty lawns with interesting textured plants that reflect the richness and diversity of the indigenous surroundings in a densely built estate environment. This will create an interface between natural and urban landscapes. Plan the planting around pollen, nectar and berries in order to invite birds, insects, and wildlife into the garden. Water remains a precious resource and needs to be managed carefully in any garden. Synthetic lawns are not the solution – the heat-glare effect that it creates reduces one’s ability to spend time on them, alongside sustainability concerns. Instead, use plants that are suited to the area. Where restrictions are placed on boreholes, rainwater catchment tanks can be installed. Underground tanks can be very useful as they are not visible over walls and save garden space. Irrigate before and after sunrise for longer periods to encourage deep root growth. Once plants are established, slowly decrease the amount of water they receive to harden and toughen them. Contact: 0827764149 |


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Capi Nature Row




Image: Noel Ashton -


magine taking a stroll through your estate to the sound of birds, watching a mongoose dart across the path, or a tortoise ambling along. Housing estates and developments offer valuable opportunities to provide a haven for a variety of wildlife, and enable ecological processes. The initial design and planting as well as the ongoing management of the landscape has a profound effect on the functioning of the urban ecosystem. Biodiversity matters We all know that access to nature is good for our health and wellbeing, but recent studies have shown that quality matters too – studies in the UK have found that the psychological benefits of urban green spaces increase with biodiversity. In other words, people felt better and more rejuvenated in a biodiverse environment with healthy ecological processes than, for example, in a manicured park with only trees and lawn. This is a strong argument in favour of biodiversity in urban landscapes. Even though the general public may not know the different species or be aware of the integrity of the ecosystem processes, they can feel and appreciate it.

Image: Marijke Honig

I found this reassuring when we were planting the 300-odd plant species in the Biodiversity Showcase Garden at Green Point Park, Cape Town. I knew that it would be difficult to maintain, and that there would be the inevitable attrition of species, but there was an overwhelmingly positive response from the public. That said, I find it surprising that the natural, slightly untidy plantings in the Biodiversity Garden, which were designed to mimic veld types, have much appeal – especially when there is still such a strong predilection for highly stylised and manicured plantings in our media and show gardens. Perhaps our souls need some wildness – a respite from the increasingly ordered and controlled urban environment? When one thinks of the scale and extent of transformation in urban areas, it is remarkable how adaptable animals are, and how they manage to move between the fragments of green in builtup areas, and how they colonise new areas. Take Green Point Park, for example – in May 2010, when the civils work was completed, the landscape was essentially 50ha of barren earth with large empty ponds and some paved paths. The only regular visitors were seagulls and plovers. But, as soon as the park was planted and water arrived to fill the ponds (December 2010), many different species of birds and insects arrived, and there was a veritable explosion of diversity. To date, few mammals have found their way into the



C H E C K L I S T TO B R I N G N AT U R E TO E S TAT E S Permeable boundaries, minimise walls Links to adjacent green areas, create wildlife corridors Habitat diversity Plant species diversity Permeable surfaces, maximise infiltration, retain stormwater on site Use downlighters to minimise light pollution Manage landscape to allow natural processes; use no poison; encourage natural predators; create some no-go zones that are left wild and undisturbed Create a closed ecosystem: minimise imports of fertiliser, export of green waste Rules for residents: dogs kept on leashes, cats require a bell on collar Educate and inform residents, report sightings – whatsapp group Image: Noel Ashton - park (except for an abundance of rats). Despite this, a Cape clawless otter was seen last year among the tall reeds, feeding on fish and crabs. After ten days, he/she moved on. It is worth remembering that biodiversity is the variety of all life: it is not just about species richness, it includes genetic diversity and the interactions between organisms (e.g. pollinators, seed dispersers, relationships with mycorrhizae and bacteria) and ecosystem processes. Examples of the latter would include the carbon and nitrogen cycles, decomposition processes, and the hydrological cycle. So the challenge in designing urban green spaces and estates is to allow or enable these process to take place. So for example the use of permeable surfaces and detention ponds helps to maximise infiltration and the hydrological cycle. Legumes such as clover and other pioneer plants contribute to soil fertility, and the decomposition cycle is natural composting. Designing from an ecological perspective Clearly there are many external factors impacting on the design of an estate, but as a mental exercise let’s ask ourselves: in an ideal


world, how do we create a haven for wildlife and maximise natural processes? For a start, the estate landscape will have permeable boundaries and connect with surrounding urban green spaces. These so-called ‘wildlife corridors’ play an invaluable role in the movement of animals, especially mammals that have no choice but to move between urban gardens and the pockets of remaining habitat. Imagine the surprise when my friends in the suburb of Rosebank, Cape Town, found an otter in their ecopool! Just for a day or two, and then he was off. Walls are a significant barrier to the movement of wild creatures – and we have so many of them (sigh). In many cases, especially within an estate, walls can be replaced by rigid mesh fences with hedges and or climbers, which would support an abundance of wildlife. I believe the reason why walls continue to dominate is that landscapers have not yet solved the problem of creating instant privacy. We need a biodegradable screen that can be attached onto the fence while plants grow. Something much more attractive than shade cloth, that will last 2 years (hemp?), in

Grass / lawn areas: allow areas of long grass; use a mulch-deck on mower a neutral colour, perhaps printed with a foliage texture or shadow patterns. We also need to remind clients that plants growing against a mesh fence will grow faster and better than against a wall due to free air circulation, better light, clean soil and unimpeded root growth (no concrete foundations). Where walls are absolutely necessary, wildlife tunnels can be created by building in pieces of 110mm pipe at the base of the wall, every 5m – perfect for frogs and toads to move through, as well as tortises, mongoose and other small creatures. For estates that are adjacent to green belts and natural areas, rigid bars at the base of the wall (prison style) would allow animals such as wild cat, genet, caracal and porcupine to enter and leave. Obviously these features need to be designed and specified by the landscape architect. To maximise biodiversity, include a number of different habitats in the estate landscape, as each will support its own suite of species and ecological processes. Ideally, the estate would include open grassy areas, thicket areas, a (seasonal) wetland, and areas with trees. Tall canopy trees provide perches for owls and raptors. I notice that in some

F E AT U R E parts of the Cape, birds of prey clearly favour exotics such as eucalyptus, oaks and pine trees, probably because they are taller than local coastal trees and offer a good vantage point. This often leads us to question just how bad non-invasive exotics are, and whether we are designing for the long-term. Has anyone considered planting groups of stone pines for future raptors, in 30 to 40 years time? Managing nature on estates Without a doubt, the ongoing management and maintenance of the estate landscape has a profound impact on its biodiversity. In theory, you could plant a diverse landscape, but if you are constantly disturbing the environment by pruning, spraying poisons, mowing, weeding and removing green waste like fallen leaves or dead branches, then animals have less of a chance to nest and feed, and the ecological processes will be constantly arrested. It was Masanobu Fukuoka who observed that almost all agricultural (and garden) activities such as digging, fertilising, composting, spraying chemicals and weeding have the unintended consequence of disturbing the natural balance, creating more work and requiring further intervention. So he learned to ask himself the question, "what can I not do?". Over 30 years, he developed a natural farming technique that was revolutionary in its simplicity. The method involved little more than broadcasting seed and spreading straw, but was finely attuned to the seasonal cycles on his farm, and worked very closely with nature. His book, The One Straw

Revolution, first published in 1975 and translated into 25 languages, offers an inspiring alternative to the resource and labour-intensive methods we currently employ. Read it! There is no doubt that nature benefits from a ‘do nothing’ approach and in an ideal world one would allow some areas to go wild – areas of long grass and shrubby thicket are great habitat for a variety of animals, expecially insects and birds. Clearly this may not always be possible (e.g. in high density estates), but at High Constantia Estate (19 housing units on 5 ha) we are finding that the creation of exclusion areas is not only feasible, but necessary as it helps to concentrate staff and resources on high priority areas which require more intensive maintenance. In the spirit of Fukuoka, I am learning to ask "what can we not do?". Is this maintenance activity really necessary? Another aspect of managing for biodiversity is to establish some rules, especially around pets. It is a natural instinct for pets to chase or hunt wild creatures, so to give chameleons, lizards, birds and small mammals a fair chance, dogs must be leashed and cats required to wear collars with bells. Residents in an eco-estate should also be educated about the value of exclusion/‘no go’ areas so that there is an understanding why they look wild and untidy. Generally people need to be reminded that all insects are part of the ecosystem, including so-called ‘pests’; so, one needs to accept that some plants will look munched at times. And less popular animals

(such as snakes, lizards, spiders and geckos) are natural predators which help to control pests. Many bulbs are porcupine food – no chance of having any arum lilies if they are around! Residents can also be encouraged to provide a water source in their gardens and to refrain from using poisons. Residents can be invited to report wildlife sightings on a dedicated WhatsApp group for the purpose – ‘Urban wildlife sightings’. This helps to motivate and remind why certain sacrifices are made with respect to maintenance. Inevitably, there will be times when human needs conflict with those of nature – e.g. the presence of snakes or bee nests. In this case, the estate manager can organise safe removal to a nearby natural habitat. To be truly ‘green’, an eco-estate would be a closed system for matter, with no export of ‘green waste’ and minimal or no imports of fertiliser and compost. Natural processes would be embraced: leaves and dead wood would be allowed to rot in situ, leaf blowers would be banned, and brush cutting would be kept to a minimum. Mowers would have mulch decks on them so that cut grass is returned to the lawn, a natural mulch and fertiliser. A compromise would be to move green refuse to a central area and chip/compost it for re-use, which looks more acceptable to the public. As you can see on the checklist, there is a lot we can do as landscape practioners and developers to bring nature back to estates. Let’s do it!

Image: Noel Ashton -







Renowned for her cool sophisticated design and stylish planting schemes, Franchesca’s gardens have a certain intangible glamour and have become incredibly well known by industry professionals and the public alike. We catch up with the renowned designer to gain insight into her inspiring gardens.

Q: What would you describe as your 'eureka' moment – the moment you knew you wanted to make a career out of your passion for landscape design? A: I came to landscape design in a roundabout way – I was trained in the performing arts, but an accident restricted my potential, so I realised that I needed to change direction and retrain. At that time, I came across Patrick Watson working on the gardens at Sun City, and realized that gardens would be the perfect way forward for me. Q: How would you describe your overall aesthetic as a garden designer? How did you arrive at this aesthetic? A: I am interested in architecture, and have always striven to design gardens that reinforce and compliment the style of the house – so I design gardens in many styles. As I get older, however, I notice that my personal preferences are for simpler solutions where the plants themselves are important, and I also love a garden than looks like amplified nature with a building inserted into it. True sustainability is vital – this means designing within the parameters available (ie. water, sun, soil and maintenance scope). Q: Looking at garden design over the past 20 years, what shifts have you noticed between what was a necessity in gardens of the past versus garden trends now? A: I think that gardens are becoming more relaxed and less obvious. We no longer want gimmicky over-designed gardens, we are looking rather for sacred spaces that feel like retreats, with the luxury of greenness. Q: What makes a successful garden? A: I really dislike stiff gardens – I like them to flow and I try for a sort of natural grace. I find that this quality can be achieved even with formal gardens



if the proportions are good. Successful gardens always have a brain behind them, observing, understanding and adjusting as the seasons and years progress. It is not a static thing. My philosophy is that to be truly sustainable, a garden needs to be right first time, and so I design to suit the architecture, climate and particular client’s regime. Q: What are you more at home designing – large, undulating gardens with open spaces or smaller, more urban-type spaces? A: I enjoy a challenge and enjoy turning any space into something pleasing. I don’t care about the size – if the client has the desire for a lovely green space, something wonderful can be done. Q: Is there an interior designer or architect you wish to work with that you have not yet? A: I would love to design the landscape around a Jean Nouvel building, particularly if it was in the Middle East where it seems that reality can come close to one's fantasy. Locally, I’m hoping to work with Durban-based Designworkshop soon. Q: Likewise, is there any person whose garden you wish to design? A: Thuli Madonsela is someone I would be fascinated to design a garden for. She seems to me a force of nature herself, so brave and persistent and true. I would try to make the garden reflect that. Q: As your work has taken you across the globe, what has been your favourite area or climate to work in? A: I am loving working in Melbourne at the moment. The climate and lifestyle are easy to identify with and the Australian plants are gobsmackingly stunning. I’m also enjoying Florence, where the cultural landscape is so strong and one can work within a limited range of plants to great effect. Q: Do you have any new exciting projects we should look out for? A: I am working on a number of farm properties currently, one or two of which will have a guest component. I really enjoy projects where there is a part of the space that can be wild. Q: Do you prefer working on your own or collaborating with others on projects? A: Collaborations can be very rewarding. If all the players are confident and therefore not egotistical,


“Connecting people to nature is at the fore of every concept & combining beauty, architecture & art with ethical principles are what define Franchesca’s work.”



the process is fascinating and enriching and the results are often surprisingly good. Q: What is some advice you have for youth within the industry, wanting to pursue a career in the landscape design realm? A: I personally don’t believe that style and design can be taught. It’s within a person: an instinct and a way of viewing the world. Good teachers merely encourage and channel a natural talent. However, to make gardens, you need to be practical and flexible, and you need to know plants very well – gardens are successful only if suitable plants are used. Q: When you are not hard at work, where might we find you? A: When I’m not working, I’m likely to be reading something non-fiction, or travelling anywhere that I can immerse myself in a natural landscape. And I do love a convivial meal with friends.


Cheetah Plains




Completed: 2019 Location: Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Mpumalanga Client: Private Size: Entire farm – 3.25ha All three house plots: 3,000m2

Cheetah Plains Private Houses are the home of the definitive, exclusive-use, luxury sustainable safari in South Africa’s most celebrated wildlife area, the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The Cheetah Plains houses play host to a private safari experience of a lifetime The new Cheetah Plains private houses in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve near the Kruger National Park, South Africa, designed by ARRCC, reinvents traditional safari‐style architecture to create an altogether new safari experience of nature from within. Combining state‐of‐the‐art sustainable architecture with a pioneering afro‐minimalist aesthetic, Cheetah Plains contrasts confident contemporary inorganic forms with the natural landscape, creating something beautiful in the unexpected creative contrast of seemingly opposing forces. “Our lifestyles are modern, nature is raw and primal. It is in that honest contrast that a beautiful tension exists,” says lead architect Stefan Antoni. “The architecture exists to enhance the experience of the outdoors – not to mimic it, but to complement it so that guests may experience the bush more directly, more immediately.” The accommodation at Cheetah Plains is split into three separate, private components referred to as Plains Houses. These, in turn, are made up of clusters of free‐standing buildings rather than the typical lodge typology of a central communal space surrounded by bedroom suites. Each Plains House has a private arrival courtyard with covered canopy, an expansive open‐plan lounge, dining and bar space with an adjoining air‐ conditioned wine room, and a private family/media room. These communal living spaces are each surrounded by four stand-alone bedroom suites, almost large enough to be considered mini lodges in their own right. The bedroom suites each have a generous open‐plan lounge and bedroom space, plus a guest toilet and a walk‐in dressing room. The bathrooms open directly to the outdoors, offering an exhilarating open‐air bathing experience. The outdoor features woven into the spaces around each Plains House include a boma area, an expansive terrace, and a heated pool. Sculptural raw rusted steel pool pavilions, inspired by the


canopy of the local Tamboti tree, filter dappled light through their cantilevered branches. Each house is also equipped with a commercial kitchen with a dedicated chef. Angular or divaricate architectural forms – that are the aesthetic signature at the heart of the lodge design – were inspired by the Acacia thorns indigenous to the area. The convergent lines and expansive cantilevered roof structures of the lodge not only offset the architecture against its setting – a sculptural form or jewel in the landscape – but also frame and mediate the experience. The open, seamless boundaries between interior and exterior have the effect of immersing guests into the environment rather than placing them on a platform, reduced to mere spectatorship. This architectural response facilitates a much more profound and layered interaction with the environment than the traditional lodge designs. The fractured arrangement of the buildings also made it possible to retain established trees on the site and build around them, enhancing the lodge’s sense of integration with the environment and allowing to tread lightly on the site. While off‐shutter concrete provides straight lines, the creative use of raw materials grounds the design in the landscape and allows the purity of the architectural forms to flow seamlessly. Feature walls built with hand packed‐raw Mica, naturally rusting Corten steel and timber elements introduce warmth and earthy, raw textures. MEET THE TEAM Property Management African Secrets Architects ARRCC Project team Stefan Antoni, Jon Case, Wade Nelsen, Emmanuel Kuchocha, Luke Zanon, Kelly Titus, Terisha Raatz Interior décor ARRCC Project team Mark Rielly, Nina Sierra Rubia, Anna-Katharina Schoenberger, Tanisha Niell Bespoke furniture OKHA Project team Adam Court, Thomas Hinde Landscaping Japie van Niekerk (owner and developer) Images Adam Letch



The honest expression of these materials, selected to age and weather naturally over time, lends the design integrity and a sense of natural transformation and growth. Where the architecture is pristine and linear, the interior design introduces softness and texture – at times retaining a certain grittiness with rough stone walls, raw concrete, weathered steel and sheets of glass. “The idea was always to redefine luxury and usher in a new language of African design for safari,” says ARRCC director of interior design Mark Rielly. “The result is interiors that are at once uniquely African, yet undeniably modern with natural finishes and sophisticated detailing.” A unique sense of place is carried through in the abundant use of locally-sourced natural materials and bespoke designs handmade by local artisans. Organic, natural forms are abstracted in the patterns, forms, and rhythms of the interior design. The curvature of the black steel flues of the fireplaces, for example, contrasts artfully with the straight lines of the architecture. Richlytextured fabrics, aged leathers, and wood grains have been subtly offset with sleek details in gold, bronze and black.



Many of the furniture pieces were custom designed by ARRCC and OKHA in collaboration with local craftsmen, including Colin Rock, Pierre Cronje and Gerrit Giebel. Once‐off Pierre Cronje dining tables, each made from a single sheet of leadwood, establish a central feature in each house. Suspended above them, hand‐blown glass chandeliers by Martin Doller reflect and refract the natural light from the surrounding bushveld. Each bar has been hand‐carved from a single block of Travertine. The walls are adorned with a thoughtfully curated selection of original South African artworks, many specifically commissioned from both established and up‐and‐coming contemporary local artists. The public sculptures include cheetah by Arend Eloff and wild dogs by Gail Catlin. Japie van Niekerk, Cheetah Plains owner and developer explains that:

The principles of local biodiversity were applied, only indigenous plants, trees and shrubs were used. The landscape was to look natural and flow into the surrounding vegetation, the vast majority of which were protected during the building period as it was an established site with existing buildings before the reconstruction project began. The team had to use indigenous, waterwise plants and still provide an inviting and cool environment which complemented the building structures and natural surroundings. “The story of the design is a collaborative vision that carefully explores the considered design of every element and their materials to reveal their natural beauty and purest form, shaping elements that are raw and transforming them into objects of luxury,” says Rielly. At the same time, the integrated concept of architecture, interiors, and furniture design revolutionises the safari experience and advances the discourse of game lodge architecture. ARRCC director, Jon Case, says: “The buildings and interiors are symbiotic. They're one idea shared in a unique location.” The walls are adorned with a thoughtfully curated selection of original South African artworks, many specifically commissioned from both established and up-and-coming contemporary local artists.


SUPPLIERS Cement AfriSam – 0860 141 141 Pergolas and cladding Installed by: RAM Shopfitters Product: White Stained Iroko Tegs Timbers – 011 024 1530 Grass Grassit – 083 447 8255 Compost Montebello, "kraalmis” – 076 645 3401 Shavings and treebark Gromor – 031 782 3105 Tile flooring Importers and installers: Stone Art – 012 324 7222 Stone used: Silver Travertine imported from Turkey Pool Midwest pools Pool pump Speck Pumps – 011 455 4300 Exterior lighting Cool Lighting – 012 653 4240 Pool furniture and screen umbrella ARRCC and OKHA Fabric used: ADF Outdoor - 041 405 4111 Plants E-grow Nursery – 084 626 0262 Fever Tree Nursery – 013 755 6012 Klugro Nursery – 082 808 0444 Hydroseeding Echo Horticulture – 021 905 0556 Product: Sungro Fertiliser Elim Kunsmis – 012 252 4455 Product: BioGreen organic fertiliser Oak Ceilings Oggie - 011 262 3117 +279(0)79 +27 694 694 84308430


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Kloof 145




Client Private Completed 2018 Site area 728m2 Project area 1,590m2 Location Kloof Road, Clifton, Cape Town

Accessed from Kloof Road, which winds along the western slopes of Lion’s Head, this site is positioned in the wind-protected suburb of Clifton. Years before any development was introduced, this slope was conceivably covered by indigenous forest and fynbos. Today, however, the area is developed and enjoys spectacular views over the sandy beaches, boulder outcrops, and Twelve Apostles mountains towards the south and sunset views over the Atlantic Ocean. Designed by SAOTA with landscaping by Nicholas Whitehorn Landscape Design, this house really is the King of Kloof Road. The first aspect of the project that required addressing was the steep slope that would have to be excavated to accommodate the structure. The home was conceived as an arrangement of staggered blocks that rise along the side of the mountain, with the upper, private levels becoming appropriately shielded from both visibility and street-level noise. "The conceptual approach to the design was to reinstate the qualities of a natural landscape," says architect Phillippe Fouché of architectural firm SAOTA, who led the project. The lower part of the building, an independent apartment, is then expressed as a 'heavy stone plinth’, its gabion-walled exterior and cocooning interior of dark-stained oak and off shutter concrete reflecting the strata of the mountainside out of which they emerge. On top of this is a transitional space that is expressed as a green terrace and braai area, representative of what would have been the landscape’s foliage level. All levels of the house are connected via a sculptural timber staircase, like a folded ribbon that gradually lightens in tone as it rises, appropriate to the home’s design narrative. A vertically slatted box hovers over the terrace, allowing the forest bushwillow trees below to grow into this level, with screens that can be opened or closed to adjust the amount of natural light filtering into the interior – "as if you were sitting in the shade of a large tree". The structure was engineered from a durable yet lightweight aluminum in a finish that mimics the different tones of bark, a durable solution to weathering Cape Town’s capricious seasons.



MEET THE TEAM Architects SAOTA Project team Phillippe Fouché, Nilene Slabbert, Mias Claassens and Thabiso Nkoane Engineers Jeffares & Green Afrika, De Villiers & Moore Quantity surveyor SBDS Contractor Cape Island Construction (CIC) Interior designers Cécile & Boyd Lighting consultant Greg Segal Lighting Landscaping Nicholas Whitehorn Landscape Design Photographer Adam Letch


SUPPLIERS Cone fireplace Beauty Fires – 021 461 9821 Multiple sculptures Dylan Lewis Two standing men sculptures Angus Taylor Flooring, ceilings, feature walls Oggie Flooring – 021 510 2846 Product used: European Oak and Hand Chiselled tiles Slatted cladding, glass balconies and driveway gate SAGE Aluminium – 021 692 2604 Exterior lighting GS Lighting Consulting – 082 490 0350 Trees and plants Bloemendal Nursery – 021 572 7908 Habitat Mature Tree Nursery – 021 855 4400 Milkwoods Nursery – 021 572 5851 New Plant Nursery – 044 889 0055 Nonke Plants – 021 887 6972 Shadowlands Wholesale Nursery – 021 903 0050 Trees SA – 021 842 0003 Compost Agri Organics - 021 852 8632 Irrigation Cape Irrigation Systems – 021 975 2262 Product used: Hunter Rim-flow Pool Island Pools – 044 382 0319

Nicholas Whitehorn LANDSCAPE DESIGN


"Above this, the living level is set back considerably to follow the slope of the mountain, resulting in added privacy and acoustic buffering while creating the perception that one is on a platform, connected to the surrounding views," says Phillippe. "The space is visually extended via the introduction of a courtyard towards the mountainside, which allows for ventilation, light and, again, an opportunity for planting." The concrete ceiling of this level is shuttered with rough-sawn planks, championing its raw texture. This emphasis on great natural materials can also be seen in the wooden floors and timber-clad scullery in this space. The scullery also forms the base of a mezzanine-level private study, which is accessed via a bridge that spans the length of the room. The uppermost level, the master bedroom, sits above the treetops and as such the materials – white marble, pale timber – and use of skylights express a feeling of air and openness while foldaway glass walls welcome in the full expanse of the view. In terms of the landscaping onsite, Nicholas Whitehorn explains that SAOTA had already designed an ingenious multiple story house that is deceptively discreet, with the top floors set back almost invisible from the road. The house is nestled into the environment as much as possible, and suitable plant material also needed to be incorporated to give the house a sense of having been placed subtly in lush nature. The client requested some exotic shrubs which have been incorporated into a predominantly indigenous garden. To soften a wall visible from within the house, it has been turned into a green wall to help blur the distinction between inside and out. The house is west facing and is positioned on the south side of a ridge in Clifton. For this reason, particular attention had to be made for the selection of plant material as there is no direct sun on almost half of the garden in winter and the harsh north-west wind over the same period. The summer has most of the garden in the full west sun. For the feature planter at the swimming pool, Nicholas and his team opted to cut a massive 70-year-old Olea europaea down to just over a meter high, which they allowed to resprout and create a new crown before it was required for installation. The entire lower facade and flanks of the house have been cleverly covered in gabion with charcoal stone which has allowed the team to make use of different climbers to easily climb up and down them for further softening.


The house has two very tall plastered retaining walls on either side. In order to screen and blur them, the landscaping team planted selected groves of trees for height. The two most focal trees in the main planter, separating the lower and top floors have been planted with Diospyros whyteana, which will grow through an opening into the next level similarly to the hanging gardens of Babylon. The internal planter was always going to be a tricky wall to cover successfully. With the very limited direct light, Nicholas’ team opted for a bleeding heart climber and installed stainless steel cables vertically (at almost 8 meters high) to create a successful green wall as a beautiful backdrop from within the house. The top floor bedroom opens up onto a pond and grass area for which the team sourced and planted zoysia, Korean mound grass, for practical maintenance reasons. Overall, the landscaping elements complement the distinct architecture of this site and have helped to create its dynamic aesthetic.

ABOUT NICHOLAS WHITEHORN LANDSCAPE DESIGN Nicholas Whitehorn Landscape Design was responsible for the design and installation of the garden, which made for a sophisticated and seamless transition between the two. Nicholas has been designing and installing gardens for the past 28 years, gravitating to indigenous gardens long before it became necessary and fashionable, realising the huge benefit it presented for more sustainable and impactful gardening. From traditional to contemporary the team’s skills encompass a very holistic and creative process to achieve the design that works with the space and architecture and gives the client a garden that is both unique and personal.


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Nooitgedacht V I L L AG E PA R K


Size of phase 1: 14,060 m2 Phase 1 completion date: November 2019 • River systems along the western edge • Large function lawn • Children’s play area • Maze • Secret Garden area Phase 2: (Combined completed aread: 2.3ha) This will include the water feature system adjacent to the future hotel, with eco-swimming pool and associated sports facilities, such as tennis courts, bowling green, and clubhouse facilities. Timeline of phase 1 development: 2012 to 2020 (still in progress) Cost of phase 1: R14.4 million Client: Nooitgedacht Estate, the Wirth Family

Dennis Moss Partnership has been involved in the Nooitgedacht Village Master planning since 2012 in conjunction with its owners – The Wirth family. The estate varies in style from previous models of development, as theirs is a lifestyle approach. Werner Wirth represents the family as the client for the design and development of the park. Style Council in collaboration with Verdigris Consulting and Roomtogrow have been involved with the design and implementation of this project, which, when fully developed, will have residential, commercial and retail components servicing the recreational needs of the many residents. Here we visit Phase 1 of this 2-phase project for Nooitgedacht Village Park, a brilliant example of estate-living. Contextualising the site: The park is central to the planning of the development as it is the largest area of dedicated green space for all the inhabitants. It was an old quarry many years ago, and was filled with rubble in the 90s. This is a fantastic example of the potential to change one type of land use to another – reclaiming an old brownfield site to an ecological restoration project. There were various ideas and key wish-list items suggested for the park, including constructed waterbodies, a maze, areas to kick about on a large lawn, trees and shaded areas, pedestrian connections and links across the estate. The park represents the largest area of green space within the development. ‘The green lung’ is for approximately 950 households, amounting to almost 3,000 people once fully developed.



The brief The client wanted to create a park that caters to a diverse range of residents, from first time homeowners to retirement age. Thus, there needed to be aspects of play catering for all ages, like shallow river areas for young children, jungle gyms, a trampoline, places to climb, crawl and roll, trees to climb, and a bowling green for the over 50s. They wanted to create a space for unwinding and to feel ‘in nature’ in a densely populated estate, but also a place to exercise on outdoor gym equipment. Vistas to the beautiful mountains and connections to the other housing precincts were important, as well as having entrances from all sides and wheelchair access. The ability to host functions in the heart of the development was also required, so the need for adequate power and certain car accessibility were elements and needs that helped to create the final design. Dennis Moss Partnership initiated the liaison with the Wirth family for the master planning of the estate and its public open spaces, along with landscape designer Otilia Gericke, who worked


on the original park design. Landscape Architect, Vikki Crawley of Verdigris Consulting has worked in conjunction with Dennis Moss Partnership since then, developing the design concept with a range of consultants and experts. Initially, the client, Werner Wirth went through a tendering process with Urban Landscape Solutions in 2015 as preferred choice for design and installation. This was paused towards the end 2015 due to time and cash flow constraints, as well as the natural effect of the oncoming drought. In early 2016, the approach to the park was revised in conjunction with Style Council’s exterior designer, Quentin Mostyn-Owen to a humancentric and ecological approach, which has led to the present design. The site is ideally situated with views towards Table Mountain in the west, and the Simonsberg and Stellenbosch mountain peaks in vistas to the east, so therefore has spectacular sunrises and sunsets. The important focus has been on the ecological

aspects of the park driven by Quentin who has designed the river systems and water features. Due to the fact, the site was originally a quarry, it was then filled with in situ material and rubble leaving a difficult site to create the extraordinary water features and river systems there are today. The soil is extremely high in clay content, making the excavation work sensitive due to its high water absorption quality in winter and tendency to be rock hard in summer. There is no naturally occurring stream in this area. The illusion has been created through skillful manipulation of the existing topography and artful creation of a closed system of running streams, reusing borehole water in a constant cycle from top to bottom of the slope. Eventually, as the riparian zone grows and develops, the park will require very little irrigation, as the evaporation and condensation – due to the large waterbodies and running water – will keep the surrounding vegetation cooler and more water-wise.


SUPPLIERS Outdoor gyms and playground equipment Play On Art – 082 575 9981 Mature trees Trees SA – 021 842 0003 Riparian plant sourcing/handmade benches and bins Schalk Viljoen – 073 591 1029 Exterior lighting GS Lighting Consultants – 082 490 0350 Products Custom lighting LED lights in play area Regent Lighting Solutions – 021 552 7622 Irrigation Ponvepou (Pty) Ltd Natural stone supplier and stonework Cape Sandstone – 072 785 7613 Wrought iron specialist bridge Jetts Fx – 021 556 8953 Seating wall Zithuba Construction Sandbag and timber seating wall Style Council – 021 468 6724 Gravel Afrimat – 021 917 8840 Bricks around pathways Cabrico – 021 865 2070 Real grass Green Buffalo – 082 885 7127 Rocks and boulders for estuary Artistic Rock Creations – 083 600 1869 Planting Alimandi Nursery – 082 389 6616 Arboreta Nursery – 021 864 3857 Arnelia Farms – 022 723 1022 Big Tree growers – 083 658 0750 Habitat – 021 885 4400 Just Trees – 021 871 1595 Little Orchard Nursery – 060 919 3939 Nonke Plants – 021 887 6972 Plant Culture – 021 881 3467 Shadowlands – 021 903 0050 Themba Trees – 083 419 0223 Tree Co – 082 829 5543 Soil and mulches Reliance Compost – 086 188 8784



MEET THE TEAM Master planning Dennis Moss Partnership Landscape architect Victoria Crawley Landscaper Roomtogrow: Brett Chilcott Exterior designers Style Council: Quentin Mostyn-Owen Civil engineers Bart Senekal Inc Electrical engineers Raubicon Electrical contractors Cape Reticulation Koelpark Electrical Maintenance Crown Landscaping Images Courtesy of DMP Media and Roomtogrow drone photography

The design approach was to look at the psychology of the space with a larger picture overview of what we wanted to create and celebrate, and a natural and coordinated use of public facilities, which blends seamlessly with the beauty of the receiving environment. The landscape here would not have evolved without the passion of all exterior consultants involved. Much time and patience educating the various construction teams about littering and caring for the space as a whole, teaching the current residents to value the outside space even though it has been a frustrating construction zone over the past three years. The landscape contractor, Brett Chilcott from Roomtogrow, is a nature-enthusiast, and his passion and zeal for the landscape is evidenced in the water-wise and indigenous plant palette and mixes which create the colour, texture and softness in the garden areas. Exterior designers are humancentric in approach and consider the needs of the residents, as well as the desire to create natural habitats for bird, insects and aquatic life. A consequence of this kind of approach is an increase in the perceived value of the homes and neighbourhoods directly adjacent to the park and to the development. Nooitgedacht Village has recently been recognised for the lifestyle approach it embodies, with an award as South Africa’s best mixed-use property development in 2019. We believe and have reiterated this – there is enormous value in developing a public landscape space in this ‘bespoke’ manner. If more developers focused on enhancing the natural beauty and aspects of a site, they would reap the rewards a hundred-fold as the houses will sell like hot cakes once potential homeowners can see the real aesthetic value in a space. In our opinion, nature sells far more plots than perfect finishes inside a house. Quentin Owen explains this in further depth on his website, Style Council Exterior Design. Sourcing of materials Materials have been locally sourced as much as possible using the suppliers that already work on the estate for key implementation. Cape Sandstone is the artisanal stone mason specialising in the stone dressing on the houses and architectural features, and have been instrumental in sourcing local boulders and sandstone. Beautiful slate was sourced a few years ago from a nearby site and has been used in dry pack and sandbagged structures within the water features as weirs and walling by Style Council. Quentin has sourced natural plant material for the riparian planting of the wetland zones from nearby farms and rivers with the owner’s permission, to ensure authentic planting of river zones.


A B O U T V E R D I G R I S C O N S U LT I N G L A N D S C A P E A R C H I T E C T: V I C TO R I A C R AW L E Y Victoria is a professional landscape architect running her own business, working on a variety of projects as a private individual and in collaboration with Dennis Moss Partnership as an independent consultant. Victoria is passionate about the environment and the beneficial impact designers can have upon it – be it social, economic or aesthetic. Textures, colours and qualities of the natural world are where she draws inspiration from. ABOUT STYLE COUNCIL Style Council brings life to space and space to life. Water systems, natural landscaping and rock features are central to our work, we provide exterior design and project management services for residential, commercial, urban parks and eco-developments locally and internationally. View our website for 25 years quality workmanship and testimonials. A B O U T R O O M TO G R O W LANDSCAPER: B R E T T C H I LC OT T Roomtogrow is an exterior design, installation and maintenance company, operating in and around Cape Town since 2002. Its focus is on creating exterior environments that are primarily indigenous, sustainable and uniquely suited to the clients' needs and wants. It aims to provide solutions that resolve the aesthetics and practicalities of long-term maintenance.


C O T TA G E Muldersdrift



Location: Muldersdrift, Gauteng Size: 487m2 Timeline: 8 months (winter 2018)

Set on the banks of the Crocodile River in Muldersdrift, yet close enough to the luxuries and amenities of Sandton and nearby Lanseria airport, this weekend bolthole is the perfect hideaway retreat. An old river stone cottage overlooking the Crocodile River has been reimagined and repurposed to define the centre of the residence. With architecture by JVR Architects and landscape design by Gregory Mark, the residence deservingly won the Pretoria Institute for Architecture (PIA) award for Architecture in 2019. The old charm of the simple river stone building led the architects to use the existing structure and material to define what would become the central living space of the new house. Three of the original stone walls were retained and define the kitchen, scullery, dining and living area. The remaining round river stone was recycled to clad the rest of the main house, whilst additional river stone was also sourced from the river below. The new homestead is also organised around three old trees, whilst each room has a unique view of the surrounding landscape. The main bedroom is detached from the main house by means of an elevated boardwalk. Two guest bedrooms lead off from the main house by the entrance and are separated by a courtyard built around an old olive tree. The experience of the house is that of courtyards and uniquely framed views. It gives a rhythmic experience of looking in and looking out, as well as enclosed and intimate contrasting with big and open. It is the sensitivity to the site and existing elements that should be considered for merit. The re-imagination and recycling of existing structure and materials to sensitively define the orientation and flow of the rest of the house, combined with the carefully arranged courtyards orientated around existing old trees, results in an experience in which the surrounding landscape is key. Repurposing existing, old material, honouring old trees and carefully framing unique views of the landscape has resulted in a modern work that retains the charm of the river stone cottage. The brief The aim was to create a weekend retreat outside of Johannesburg that is haven to relax in and connect with nature. The client also wanted the architects to use the existing stone cottage that has been used in recent years as a storeroom,

as a basis for the new design. It was important to respect and incorporate into the design the existing trees and outcrops of the site. JVR Architects needed to create a simple, modern and appropriate design that can accommodate family living and encourage interaction within the farm setting and Crocodile River, as well as create a retreat that fits the farm and family which was paramount in the brief. The design also needed to work for couples, families and friends, creating a space that encourages interaction in communal areas, but provides privacy when needed. Gregory Mark was invited early onto the project team to collaborate ideas for the garden design. He explains: “All my work has a strong direction and is influenced by architecture, and here at stone cottage, this was no exception. Joe of JVR Architects had lovingly, yet painstakingly, plotted and worked the new dwellings extensions, around huge existing indigenous trees on the property. Nothing established was to be cut down, and the gigantic Combretum erythrophyllum or Bush River Willow as you drive into the gravel parkade is considered the “home tree” as it is propositioned by the front door with the homestead. Architecturally speaking, the entrance is a glass box, but it is also cleverly the link between the old and new building conversions. As the entrance is made mostly of glass, this was the opportunity to really celebrate the front door to the home, and also create some garden architecture and design that works with the home’s modern and clean aesthetics. Gregory said that as a landscaper, he always gets excited when he sees huge floor to ceiling windows, as it gives him a chance to turn every window into a carefully curated vista. Gregory decided to use two Magnolia pots from Core Furniture to light up and make a strong statement at the front door, during both day and night time. There is one oversized planter under the gigantic bush willow that lands the front door, and another on the opposite end set on the refection pond in the internal courtyard. This water feature doubles up as a koi pond which was part of the client's brief. There are no koi in the pond just yet, but the client plans to build up a collection of specifically chosen fish. The team that worked onsite fell in love with a particularly handsome old olive Olea Africana, which looks as though it has been there all along. It was established high above the garden, perched on an outcrop of weathered and aged natural-occurring rock that diecasts the gardens internal courtyard. This was considered to be the most beautiful backdrop option for the space.



It was from these rocks that bore the whole design influence for the farm garden and became the spine of the landscape design. Gregory comments: “It was something I instinctively knew was very special and that I could just not recreate. However, it was only once the rocks had been cleaned up of mangled brambles and years of ad hoc landscaping that featured the odd bamboo palm and washingtonia palm dotted amongst the rocks, and told a different story of the bygone era and previous plant choices." Gregory decided they were too out of place to stay, but he was inspired by a healthy clump of existing strelitzia reginae that was well established in the existing cottage garden and decided to use them as part of his planting compositions for an accent colour. He explains: “I’m not a purist when it comes to indigenous, although I would say this is an indigenous inspired garden. If you know all the rules, break them.” Gregory has pared some plants together that you would not ordinarily find in nature. "It's fashion and art," he explains. Gregory loves the combinations of strelizia, Boston ivy and bay leaf hedges. It is hardy old-fashioned plant material, but it feels so modern and fresh on this site. The formative and basic cottage, with its original stone clad walls which has been transformed into a kitchen and living space, still bare the beautiful and richly-coloured stone that is in abundance onsite. It was natural for the garden's architecture to follow a similar thought process, and this abundance of stone onsite meant this same stone was used for all paved garden pathways and the courtyard floor. It is a plus being able to use materials found onsite as there are no transport and associated costs. The stone was coming out the ground as the team excavated, and then packed it to one side during the home’s construction phase. Another material in abundance was fill and topsoil, which was engineered to meet another brief requirement from the client, and was the request for manicured lawn. The only way to meet this requirement was the creation of a lawned terrace off the main building and existing section of the stone cottage. This was no easy challenge, as the team had to negotiate a number of stairs down an almost two-metre level change to the sloping land below.


Joe, of JVR Architects, also designed the mosaictiled swinging pool that retains part of this platform with a deck below.

Main contractor builder AtCor

Architect Joe Van Rooyen - JVR architects Garden design Gregory Mark Landscapes

Stone Mason Master Stone


SUPPLIERS Organics Culterra – 011 300 9913 Irrigation In-house Gregory Mark Product: Hunter Decking Zuberi - 011 805 1717 Plant material Malanseuns – 012 549 2128 Kazimingi Nursery – 079 871 8829 Lawn Grass factory – 011 462 8343 Planters Core Furniture – 021 461 9078 Outdoor Furniture Bloc Outdoor - 021 461 3506 Lighting designer Darkroom lighting – 011 042 8798 Lighting LEDS-C4 - 084 459 5025 Aurora Lighting - 011 234 4878 Pool Penguin Pools West Rand – 012 800 1021 Pool Mosaic Tiles Douglas Jones – 086 166 7242



A B O U T G R E G O RY M A R K LANDSCAPES Gregory Mark Landscapes is a bespoke garden design and turnkey landscapes company based in Johannesburg. Specialising in residential gardens, with a portfolio of work throughout the country, he has been terraforming gardens all over South Africa, with an extensive client portfolio for over 20 years. Gregory has a particular love for garden architecture, with most of his work relating strongly to the home’s architecture and interior. No stranger to building sites he has cut his teeth on thousands of hours of site time. Gregory has just as much fun working out hard landscaping compositions of floor coverings and hardscaping materials as he does working out planting compositions.




By Rainmaker Marketing in partnership with North Global Group


outh Africa is a global pioneer in estate living. The property market has seen a demand for diversified product offerings due to the consumer markets evolved needs. This has paved the way for personalised, inclusive and innovative developments. Rainmaker Marketing, an award-winning South African property development marketing and research company, shares insight into 2020’s property development trends and how consumers are steering the direction of estate living. Urbanisation on another level There are certain elements of living you are guaranteed within an estate, from state-of-the-art security systems to outstanding lifestyle facilities on your doorstep. Developers are pushing the boundaries in estate living with the movement towards forming estates that configure integrated and secure districts with schools, restaurants, commercial entities, medical offerings, markets and residential components within one holistic estate. This trend is being referred to as the “livework-play” offering which has led to an increase of mixed-use developments. A study by New World Wealth, recently confirmed the change in estate offerings, with developers opting to create small neighbourhoods as opposed to having homes evenly spaced around a large property. Location and proximity is always going to be a key influence on the consumer’s decision. Properties are being strategically located 5-minutes away from key amenities and modern conveniences. The areas experiencing the most growth are those positioned within a close radius of key amenities, namely hospitals, schools and shopping centres. The price point sweet spot It is evident that there is a huge investor and first-time homeowner market that is being accommodated for in newer and existing developments. The developments experiencing a fast rate of sale have been sensitive to property market conditions and are conscious of price points for first-time buyers. In light of this, developers are adjusting the size of homes to be able to deliver an entry-level price point. “Between 2018 and 2019, Rainmaker Marketing has been behind the marketing of developments that have been acutely aware of the price point. The Woods and Ballito Groves are examples of developments that have been aware of their target market and are conscious of their affordability; and as a result, have seen outstanding results. Ballito Groves launched in December 2018 with 1 and 2-bedroom apartments with prices starting from R680 000. Within 4 weeks from launch,



Ballito Groves had sold all 114 Phase 1 units. The Woods is another residential development that offered 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments from R649 000, and saw 50 property sales within 50 days, which accounted for 82% of Phase 1. In just 16 weeks, The Woods sold out Phase 1. These kinds of figures are unheard of in the current property development industry,” explains Stefan Botha, Rainmaker Marketing Director. Sustainability There will be a sharp increase in the use of passive architectural design, along with the inclusion of smart meters, gas appliances, energy-efficient and water saving fixtures used more commonly in property development. “Rainmaker Marketing has been fortunate in working with developers who strive to achieve eco-friendly estates in South Africa. One of the key players, who we believe has been innovative in curating a green, eco-conscious lifestyle is Elaleni Coastal Forest Estate. This North Coast KZN development has incorporated architectural guidelines that encourage homeowners to build homes that are off-grid. They have made huge strides in creating an ethos that harnesses solar energy, harvests rainwater and is driven by living off the earth, while still maintaining a convenient and modern lifestyle for homeowners,” explains Botha. “In the next 2 to 3 years, there will be a massive shift in developments becoming totally self-sustainable.”

Multigenerational offerings Gone are the days when retirement and lifestyle estates sat as separate entities. With the retirement consumer market looking for vibrant lifestyles, homes close to families and access to multi-generational communities, existing lifestyle estates are introducing retirement opportunities. “Leading, world-class estates within South Africa are paving the way by integrating retirement living into their holistic offering. An example of this would be the introduction of Brettenwood Life, a luxury retirement offering within the prestigious Brettenwood Coastal Estate. All residents have full access to premium lifestyle facilities along with pet-friendly, multi-generational living,” shares Botha. KZN North Coast demand “The KZN North Coast is the fastest growing metro in South Africa. It is attracting investors from across South Africa, especially from Johannesburg and Western Cape. With the investor market looking for properties in sub-tropical climates, with easy accessibility to surrounding areas and amenities, as well as having the presence of good infrastructure, KZN’s North Coast will continue to see property development and purchasing within this region,” says Botha. Short-term rentals South Africans have latched on to the wonders of Airbnb and other online short-term rental

solutions. There is a 106% year-on-year growth of guest arrivals in Durban using Airbnb alone. Botha reveals “Due to the increase in short-term rentals, developers have had to accommodate for this in their design of estates, by introducing waiting rooms and lounges, collection boxes, and changing the management rules for these estates to become more flexible. We are seeing developers create turnkey packages where they help furnish these investment properties at a fraction of the price and provide manuals for purchasers to better manage these short-term rentals. Another trend we are seeing in many developments, is the inclusion of virtual hotel solutions that are also built around business travel and tourism.” Smart future Durban has been earmarked to introduce the first smart city in South Africa. Technology, sustainability and connectivity influence the consumer market and will result in smart property development. South Africa has just touched on the wonders of smart living with the incorporation of home automation and the integration of apps; creating a lifestyle that is merely controlled by the touch of a button will lure more consumers. This year, and many more to follow, will see developers really applying technologies and smart living elements to their product offering.

“South Africa is home to truly phenomenal land, diverse cultures and rich history. Property developers continue to accentuate these assets, modernise lifestyles, uplift communities and most importantly, listen to the needs and wants of the local consumer markets.”


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reating a biome is not always easy and there are many aspects one needs to consider. Top of the list is soil. Often soil is taken for granted, one merely adds nutrients to the mix in the hope that this is sufficient. Soil holds the most biotic (living) factors within a biome, therefore creating a suitable biodiverse biome starts from the ground up – pun intended. Sometimes replacing the soil is the only option and a highly recommended one. Another important step is plant choices. This may seem obvious, but time and time again the same plants are used to the detriment of fauna and flora. Biomes are created through companion and mass plantings. There are two conflicting schools of thoughts. A mass planting is not a monoculture of plants, but rather a grouping of plants that complement others alongside. The reciprocal is often seen when amateur gardeners plant every type of plant that they see, resulting in a smorgasbord of plants, often to the detriment of style, and more importantly, a natural garden. A natural biome is not just about planting indigenous plants, nor is it about planting endemic plants. Yes, these are important, but they need to be considered in context with other aspects such as topography, micro-climate, species choice, soil type and water availability, to mention a few. An indigenous garden can be sterile if it does not provide a suitable home for insects, birds and animals. Yes, it may look good, but in the long-run, it will suffer. When creating a biome it is important to provide enough food, foliage and space for fauna and flora. Two favourites are grassland and woodland biomes. A woodland or forest biome will be more sheltered and open spaces will be surrounded by woody shrubs and trees, so varying degrees and heights of foliage is key. Whereas, a grass biome will be open and expansive with a few shrubs dotted amongst large areas of grasses and bulbs. Insects, birds and animals need shelter and food, whether below ground level or in the tree canopy, and the type of biome that exists will determine the type of fauna and flora that live within it. One of the largest biomes in South Africa is grasslands. This ranges from the Eastern Cape to the escapement and reaches as far as Lesotho. Creating a unique grassland biome can be difficult. A great way to plan a grassland biome is to limit species choices to a bare minimum. Plant these species in large swathes where they fade and amalgamate into each other. If space is not an issue more species can be introduced. Feature plants can be used to accent these areas. Certain species would be repeated en masse, creating uniformity to the biome. Bulbs, or self-seeded annuals and biennials, can provide seasonal colour and some intrigue within the space.


NURTURE For very large areas it becomes rather difficult to 'place' plants, and planting plans are often very sterile. Thus, directing your team of gardeners when placing, and subsequently planting, can be a great way to create a more 'natural' and random garden. What I have done in the past is direct each team member to a certain species and then allocate them a position within a landscape to place, declaring that each plant should be 500mm apart (depending on the plant) and should be placed in groups of 17 to 20. This has proven to be very successful when planting areas of more than 5,000m2. The smallest biome in South Africa is the woodland biome. Here, tall trees and shrubs intermingle to form spaces filled with foliage. Organic matter is aplenty along the forest floor and these biomes tend to develop into wet, humid areas that promote microbial activity. Large trees such as Calodendrum capense, Celtis africana and the occasional Afrocarpus fill large spaces where shrubs such as Halleria lucida, Diospyros whyteana, Mackaya bella and Ochna serrulata fill the areas below. Planting a mixture of Plectranthus, Clivia, Hypoestes and Streptocarpus among the trees creates a colourful mass of bird-loving plants. Using elements of water, such as a fountains or water features that exists at different levels, is a great way of encouraging bird life. Provided the water is relatively still and close to foliage, birds will feel sheltered and safe. Similarly, opening areas where the sun can filter in and warm the water creates a dynamic space within a landscape. The grassland biome exists within a large area, and therefore consists of species with varying requirements. The iconic factor is a lack of shrubbery and tall trees, where space is dominated by grasses instead. When choosing species for grassland, it is important to match species with the climate and the area one is in. Grassland biomes need to encourage local and endemic fauna and flora to the environment. Harpochloa falx, Anthericum saundersiae, Themeda triandra Forssk and Melinis repens are choices often used to anchor the biome. Bulbs such as Chasmanthe and Watsonia add the seasonal colour. I often use the occasional Aloe or Kniphofia to add some interest. Sneaking in the occasional ground cover is important to break large areas of one species while allowing to transition to the next. When creating a grassland biome within residential areas, choosing large bird loving species on the periphery is a great idea. Strelitzia, Gardenia and Apodytes dimidiata are great options when framing a garden. Personally, a large fruiting tree cut to size often frames a garden beautifully without challenging the style, and is a natural look for the biome.


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KRAAIBOSCH NURSERIES: SITE VISIT Kraaibosch Nurseries (Pty) Ltd was established in 1983 and, over the past 37 years, has positioned itself as one of the leaders in wholesale growing for South Africa’s landscaping industry. We catch up with managing director Albertus Duvenage and general manager Elsabe Frankenfeld, to find out all about Kraaibosch’s involvement in the 'green' industry and their offerings to the trade. Q: How big is your nursery in hectares, where is it situated, and which types of professionals do you open your doors to? A: Kraaibosch is a picturesque nursery, situated on seven hectares of land just outside of George – on the N2 towards Wilderness. As we offer a bulk sourcing, we are positioned towards landscapers, developers, farmers and supplying to retail nurseries.

Q: How many staff members do you typically employ on site? A: Kraaibosch Nurseries employs around 70 staff members, including growers, propagators, planters, sales representatives, drivers and an order team, as well as the necessary administrative staff. We strive to motivate everybody to work together so we can grow our business for the benefit of all. Q: What do you grow and/or specialise in? What would you say you are best known for? A: We grow a wide range of indigenous and exotic plants, from seedlings to shrubs and trees, colour pots, ground covers, roses, aloes, succulents, etc. Q: Which areas do you service? A: We deliver mostly to Eastern and Western Cape areas. We have trucks in Cape Town, the Cape Coast and Port Elizabeth on a weekly basis,

and to the Eastern Cape rural areas every second week. We also will deliver to other areas by special arrangement. Q: What are some of Kraaibosch's unique selling points? What makes your services different to your competitors? A: We send out weekly availability lists and deliver all orders that are received within a set time limit, which is during that same week, so our clients receive their plants promptly. We also keep our clients up-to-date with weekly letters and pictures of plants that are looking nice, and we regularly update our website. Our service is efficient and professional and I think this is why we have managed to make such a great name for ourselves. Q: What projects have you supplied to and worked on where we might see some of your plants?



Kraaibosch supplied plants for Leeu Estate

A: We have supplied plants to Keith Kirsten Horticulture International for Klein Dassenberg, Fynbosch Estate and Boschendal Estate in Franschhoek, and to Heimo Schultzer for their projects at Fynbosch Estate and Val de Vie Estate in Franschhoek. We've also supplied to Tshala Plant Brokers for their project at Fairhaven Country Estate near Somerset West, Constantia Mist Vineyard Estate in Constantia, Zevenwacht Wine Estate in Kuils River, Russel Vineyards in Hermanus, and Noordhoek Manor. Q: How do you see the nursery growing in the next five years? And what are some of your plans as a business? A: We aim to grow even better-quality plants and to keep expanding our range of indigenous and water wise plants to cater for the needs of landscape architects, retail outlets and developers. Q: As summer draws to an end, what have been some of the best sellers this season? A: This year we sold many Agapanthus, Carissa, Barleria, Portulacaria, Plectranthus cilliatus, Polygala myrtifolia, Falkia repens, Gauras, Anthericum saundersii, Euryops pectinatus, Abelia grandiflora, Aptenia cordifolia and Hydrangea macrophylla. Q: What are some of your proudest moments on site at the Kraaibosch Nursery? A: When customers compliment us on the quality of our plants and the neatness of our nursery, and when we get positive feedback on our service to clients. Q: With the growing trend moving toward sustainability, and taking into account the water crisis, is Kraaibosch taking any measures to accommodate the many changes and adaptions our industry is needing to be positive protectors of the South African landscape? A: We are concentrating more on growing water-wise and indigenous plants than in the past.






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M AY T H E V E L D B E W I T H YO U By Life is a garden




othing says proudly South African quite like a braai in the bushveld, a couple of cold ones between friends, and a silhouetted acacia tree at twilight. This March, bring the bush to your own backyard and make every weekend a reason to get out and enjoy the aromatic, African air. Fall in love with a wonderful variety of indigenous plants, which are low maintenance, naturally water saving, and easily accessible for your next gardening project.

Letting the landscape speak Before cutting down that old tree or removing those rocks, why not use the existing landscape and architecture to your advantage? Leafy ferns and trees with bulging roots add a lovely variety of texture to your garden. Indigenous thorn trees may not be the best picnic spot, but a simple pallet pathway leading to a cosy hammock or bench, may just bring out your garden’s natural beauty. Building a fire pit from collected rocks is cost efficient and effortlessly evokes that rustic, unrefined, bushveld feeling. Make the most of uneven areas by surrounding your boma with a sandpit and wood stumps for stools. Using different sands or pebbles bring even more texture into the space, making decorating easy by showcasing bold, dead tree features and a couple of ambient lanterns. Bulking up your bush The thing about indigenous plants is that they love space, depth, and lots of ferny friends! Planting “bulking” shrubs, ferns, and creepers together creates excellent and easy space fillers, impressive barriers, and even pretty cloaking devices to disguise those dull walls and fences. Including some striking crane flowers (Strelitzia reginae), a fragrant gardenia bush (Gardenia augusta), and a few evergreen Kei apple shrubs (Dovyalis caffra) will not only fill gaps in your garden, but may well surprise you with their easy to maintain, effortless beauty. A variety of local grasses are also great for adding diversity to your proudly South African garden. Try planting some dreamy snowflake grass (Andropogon eucomis) along pathways, surrounding empty tree beds, and even to those areas where nothing else seems to grow.

a kaleidoscope of butterflies is easy too, especially when planting brightly coloured butterfly bushes such as Geraniums (Geranium incanum). Cork Bush (Mundulea sericea) is an excellent choice for Highveld naturescaping with purple flowers providing food to multiple insects and birds, who in turn are sure to bring that all too familiar, bushveld choir to your patio. Hollowed out tree stumps or large rocks with natural indents, make for great bird baths and a welcoming refreshment for all your little bushveld guests. Beauty is in the eye of the recycler With a little TLC, a scrap piece of wood can have many uses: a serving slab for bits of biltong, a tray to display your acacia seeds, or a simple bush-inspired centrepiece. Take your creativity a step further and add some handmade carvings to your wood, or use red soil to naturally stain lighter, raw wood. Attention to detail can help add that extra veld flavour to your garden. Decorate your old tree stumps, tables, and low walls with aloe plants in earthy pots. Aloes are avid sun lovers, water-wise, hardy, and come in a vibrant variety of sunset hues. With the beautiful African bushveld as your muse, you can create your own bush paradise. Visit your nearest GCA Garden Centre for indigenous plants and the best advice on growing mzanzi magic. When it comes to capturing the essence of a bushveld garden, simple, earthy accents can make all the difference and ensure that your inspiration sings through every part of your garden – from the plants to the pots, and even to that old tree stump! Visit the Life is a Garden website ( for more gardening trends and inspiration.

"With the beautiful African bushveld as your muse, you can create your own bush paradise."

Friendly creatures and critters Conserving and planting endemic flora is not only a win for the environment, but also a sure victory for our little garden visitors. Bees play a vital role in human existence and crop pollination, so help the little guys out by adding some sweetly scented, Honey Daisy (Euryops virgineus) to your bushveld. And while you’re at it, inviting




BOOK CLUB Book: The Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland Editors: Ladislav Mucina and Michael C. Rutherford (+-90 authors contributed to this book) Publisher: South African National Biodiversity Institute




Reviewed by Carrie Latimer, Landscape Designer @ Carrie Latimer Landscape Design

I have recently acquired this doorstop of a book and discovered it to be a most powerful tool that I now use regularly when starting a new design project. In the Western Cape so much of our built environment is in extraordinarily close proximity to fragile, often pristine natural landscapes and I am frequently designing residential gardens bordering on nature reserve. As such, this book helps one to identify with precision, the vegetation type natural to the property one is working on. This in turn helps with either the selection of the most appropriate natural palette of plants, or to better discern the soil and climate conditions by understanding the type of plants that thrive in the location. Indeed, with as many critically endangered vegetation types as we have within our borders, a guide such as this becomes almost essential in helping us in the landscaping industry to ‘first do no harm’ and for our work to have a positive imprint on the land. 30 Pages of maps at the back of the book show not only the vegetation types, but the rivers and significant roads and rail networks which makes finding yourself on the map fairly easy. The colour coded maps relate back to a comprehensive breakdown of the various bioregions. They Fynbos biome for example is broken down into 18 different fynbos types


and then further into vegetation units. There are 31 different vegetation units under Sandstone fynbos alone. The meat of the book consists of a break down of each vegetation unit including the geology and soils, important and endemic taxa, conservation etc. The inside cover holds a CD containing a digital version of the Vegetation atlas as well as a pull out key which makes for great ease of use. Most recently, I have designed a large garden backing on to the Alphen Green Belt in Constantia which The Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland helped me to identify as sitting in a pocket of Southern Afrotemperate Forest. The detailed information provided allowed me to draw together a planting scheme most appropriate to the location with a beautiful canopy layer including Podocarpus falcus, Cunonia capensis, Nuxia floribunda, Olea capensis etc. and a rich shrub layer & understory including Cyathea capensis and Clivia mirabilis to name but a few. While we are yet to break ground on the property, I feel confident that the design will have a lasting positive impact on the plant and animal systems surrounding it. I am also currently designing a modern botanical display garden for a boutique hotel in Bishops Court and have been thumbing the pages of the fynbos Biome chapter while composing plant lists that will represent a diversity of fynbos types. For anyone in conservation and for anyone in any type of land or resource planning, this is an invaluable reference book to add to your

shelf. It is of particular value for those, like me, practicing the in the Western Cape where the land is covered by a Persian carpet of vegetation units, varied and more complex than other parts of the country. This book is also a God send when working in provinces outside of my home province where my understanding of the vegetation types is less developed. With 94 authors having worked on this publication, and with the advances in mapping technology available, this book overtakes Acocks (1953) Veld types of South Africa, which has served previous decades so well. A word of caution, you aren’t likely to find this book on Amazon or at Exclusive Books so phone ahead to your local SANBI centre bookstore to locate a copy. Carrie latimer Landscape designer 0798715572

The only representative body for, and the national voice of, the landscape industry Why become a member of SALI? • Landscaping Standards Manual • Marketing • Endorsement

• • • •

Networking Recognition Skills Development Mediation Services

• • • •

Contract Documentation SACLAP Registration CPD Training Annual Awards

Our mission statement To improve the standing of the landscape industry and to promote the participation of all role-players in this industry in Southern African by encouraging training, higher standards, professionalism, ethical condust and social interaction through regular meetings, conferences, workshops and liaison with businesses, training and government institutions, statutory bodies, NGO’s, employer and employee organisations Members include: Landscape contractors, selected suppliers, associates, employees and students.

Eligible supplier members who support the Code of Conduct and offer quality products and services qualify to display this logo as an outward sign of their commitment to Best Practice

Contact SALI for more information Cape: TEL (+27) 67 828 0667


Gauteng: TEL (+27) 67 246 3092


KZN: TEL (+27) 83 361 8228

Email: | Website:

M A I N TA I N I N G A N E S TAT E By Jonty Kirkby, owner of RealGreen Landscaping




o many, the notion of estate landscape maintenance is purely mowing the lawn and weeding the flower beds. However, there is so much more that goes in to delivering a well-manicured estate than the completion of routine maintenance tasks. The first step is to develop a well-documented master plan. This is the framework that will guide the contractor and estate management team in the right direction. Typically, an estate will go through several maintenance contractors as well as estate managers during its life cycle. Both of these parties will have their own preconceived idea of what they want to do – this is often not what the master plan outlines for the estate. The master plan should highlight items such as planting palette, general look and feel, architectural style, water-wise philosophy, manpower structure reporting lines. This is the starting block to good estate maintenance. If you don’t get the building blocks of the framework laid out clearly, you can’t expect to get the desired results delivered. The contractor needs to know who he reports to and both these parties need to be pulling in the same direction. The second step is getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. All staff need to have the same vision of where you want to take the landscape and how we are going to get there. Before any staff are allowed to start working, an induction is a non-negotiable process that needs to take place prior to commencement of employment. Not only is the general philosophy shared but also the housekeeping items taken care of. These could include no blowers before 8am to reduce noise pollution or not watering between 10am to 2pm to reduce water wastage. The machinery mix is also of vital importance. More often, it is well worth putting a little more into the capital outlay which will deliver a superior finish than going with a cheap and cheerful solution. Lately in South Africa we have seen the ever-increasing usage of brush cutters for mowing, but a proper lawn mower would give you a far superior cut quality. At RealGreen, we like to use STIHL as a preferred brand on all our smaller machines, including brush cutters, hedge trimmers, blowers and chainsaws, Torx push mowers and Gravely or Cub Cadet ride-on mowers. It helps to standardise your machinery list for ease of holding spares as well as developing relationships with the supplier. In a new trend, we have started moving towards battery powered equipment. With the ever-increasing price of fuel, you are able to con-

trol your input costs more effectively and reduce noise – a common complaint in an estate – as well as operate in a more environmentally friendly manner. However, the technology still needs some work to increase battery life and strength of the machine. On more industrial sites, we find the machines aren’t strong enough to cope with the high workload. Supervision and leadership are paramount to achieving the desired results. Your team on the ground is only as good as the management structure lets them be. Spend a little more time training your supervisors and the results will speak for themselves. Branding and a sense of belonging is important. All staff should be dressed in uniform and issued with PPE. This makes it easy to spot colleagues, keeps them safe and gives them the feeling that they are part of a team - teamwork makes the dream. This also makes your staff visible whilst carrying out their duties.

This includes thinking outside the box and offering alternative solutions to common problems. For example, introducing owls to reduce the rat population as opposed to putting down poison, beehives to assist with pollination or chipping your pruning material and reintroducing it back into the flower beds as mulch. Over and above 'normal' landscaping, we are often are requested to carry out a few additional services which include minor handyman tasks, cleaning of the stairways and patios, refuse bin sanitation and plumbing repairs. Landscape maintenance should not be considered a grudge expense but a worthwhile investment. Property owners and homeowners should allocate a realistic budget to their landscape maintenance function. A landscape is often the first impression when arriving at an estate and this filters down to house prices. Don’t always go with the cheapest proposal – a short-term saving could cost you far greater down the line.

As a contractor, you need to make sure you are operating in the most environmentally responsible way.



MARCH MUST HAVES GRAVELY PRO-TURN 100 RIDE ON MOWER Put your best foot forward with the power and performance of the PRO-TURN 100. When you’re looking for a full featured, high-performance commercial mower that gets the toughest jobs done, the Pro-Turn 100 is it. It boasts honest value and makes your business decision easier. This quality machine has exceptional cutting features to help meet your commercial needs, with cutting widths from 48 to 60 inches. Robust twin-cylinder engine options are not only high-performance, but create less vibration to minimize operator fatigue. Full suspension seat with lumbar support assures a comfortable ride and the twinstick operator controls with dampeners make turning on a dime a breeze. Mfangano Solutions (Pty) Ltd is a proud distributor of Gravely and other famous brands.


STIHL PRO CORDLESS RANGE STIHL’s PRO cordless range ensures 100% mobility with a matchless lithium-ion powered delivery. Ideal for professional landscaping, this range offers the convenience of no messy refuelling, limited noise and zero emissions, plus the models are lightweight and ergonomic for extended use. The extensive range includes brushcutters, hedge trimmers, blowers, chainsaws, telescopic pole pruners and lawnmowers. All are powerful and easy to use, with long running time and short charging time and the total convenience of the batteries being interchangeable between all products in the range. The brushless EC motors don’t require servicing so there is no downtime, and STIHL lithium-ion battery technology ensures that these machines don’t lose power as the battery runs down. Cost-saving, time-saving and increased productivity: now that’s what you’ve come to expect from STIHL.

FROM IDEA TO INDUSTRY PIONEER – HUSQVARNA ROBOTIC MOWERS TURN 25 In 1995, Husqvarna took the first step into a new product segment with the launch of the world’s first commercial robotic lawn mower, Husqvarna Solar mower, which started to change the way lawns are maintained all over the world. Husqvarna’s first robotic mowers for green space professionals, Husqvarna Automower® 520 and 550, were introduced in 2018. Equipped with professional controls for simplified interaction and remote control and surveillance through Husqvarna Fleet Services, these mowers were designed for more robust tasks and to save professionals time and effort.


DESIGNED TO FREE UP TIME Husqvarna Automower® cuts your grass 24/7 and gives you the perfect lawn, autonomously and effortlessly. No matter how large or complex your lawn is, Automower® is ready to take on the job. Find your local Husqvarna Dealer at WWW.HUSQVARNA.CO.ZA





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